So I have this irrational fear: that I will never. Ever. Write another good song again. Ever.
Sure, it sounds a bit melodramatic (but that's not an all-together inaccurate descriptor for me). Writers have big imaginations, and it's when we let our imaginations run wild that we generate our best ideas.
Failure is inevitable. Every songwriter will, at some point, write a bad song. Even seasoned songwriters have off days. They may not be writing BAD songs, but every now and again they will write "not as good" songs. Trying to avoid failure is
b) highly discouraged
because failure is valuable. It keeps your ego in check and teaches you what not to do.
Knowing this doesn't make failing any easier. Each time I sit down to write a song, I want it to be great. There is nothing more defeating than finishing a song (or attempting to finish a song) that doesn't inspire you. I say "attempting to finish a song" because sometimes I feel so unmotivated by my lack of 'creative genius' that it seems pointless to continue channeling my efforts into a lost cause. But instead of scrapping a song before I see it through, maybe I need to adjust my perception. When you accept the notion of a "lost cause" you close yourself off to countless possibilities. Start by keeping a verse and trashing the chorus. Then rewrite the chorus. Afterwards, you may suddenly feel inspired to change the verse. By the time the jigsaw puzzle is rearranged, the original "failed song" is but a faint whisper, slowly drifting into the abyss of your subconscious as a reminder that powering through obstacles only leaves you more enriched than before.
After several (unwelcome) encounters with writer's block, I have finally come to a personal realization about myself (drumroll, please). Part of what makes songwriting so satisfying for me is the challenge. It makes me uneasy when things come too easy. When I don't have to work for it, it doesn't feel like my best work. You can't be passive about your art; you must throw yourself into it. Throw yourself violently, passionately into your art. And doing that requires E F F O R T .
Keep that in mind the next time you're faced with a roadblock. You'll feel so much more proud of what you've created—and the person you've become—when you blaze through to the other side.
p.s. This blog post is not just for songwriters! I simply used songwriting as an example. The ideas can be applied to all types of artists, creatives (and anyone, really).
Ways To Combat Writer's Block
Create a "distraction free zone"
Lock yourself in your room (so it's just you, your thoughts, notebook, pen) and attempt to write and generate ideas. Force yourself to be "in the zone" for a couple hours. Even if you don't come up with anything worthy or usable, it's never a waste of time to exercise your brain and simply TRY.
Call in help
Seek out assistance. Phone a friend. Co-write! Talk to somebody about your struggles and ask them for advice. They may have solutions you never thought of.
Take a day trip
Free yourself from your usual surroundings. Sometimes a change of scenery can inspire you (or at least make you feel less stifled). Take a walk. Take a drive. Observe passersby. Do all of this while keeping a notebook handy—this is an intentional exercise, not a vacation.
Change your space
Your environment can have an immense effect on your mood and ability to create. Where are you writing? Is it dark? Too hot? Too cold? Uninspiring? Light some candles. Turn on a fan...or a space heater. Grab a cozy blanket and your favorite warm drink. Decorate. Better yet, go somewhere that energizes you. Try writing at your local coffee shop or library. Write in the park. Find a studio or office space. Maybe even ask a close friend if you can come write in their super zen house that looks like it came straight out of Pottery Barn!
Dress the part
Take a shower. Get out of your pajamas. Do your hair. Do your makeup. Put on a fabulous outfit. Dress how you imagine your favorite writer would (i.e. GET OUT OF YOUR PAJAMAS). You can't conceive your next great creation dressed for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Go out and live your life! Sometimes you encounter writers block because you LITERALLY HAVE NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT. Change that. Be open. Do something that scares you. Try to say "yes" more often. Read a book. Watch a movie. Gather inspiration. And to make sure you're not just watching movies under the guise of "finding inspiration", challenge yourself to write something directly inspired by each film/book/poem/article.
Do something different
Stop writing. Give yourself a break. Find another activity to work on. Like any healthy relationship, sometimes you need to take time away to remind yourself how much you love it. You need time to miss it.
Have more ideas for ways to combat writer's block? Share below!
Gingie 1/2 of sister duo Chasing Lovely. Here to love.